A hands-off approach to regulation is ‘not an option’ for the Legal Services Board, the embattled super-regulator has protested.
In a statement on its role timed to coincide with the publication of its annual report, the board conceded that other regulators would prefer it to be less intrusive in their affairs.
But the LSB said it was legally bound to take positive but proportionate action to achieve the best outcomes for legal services consumers.
The LSB statement said: ‘Without oversight, the self-governing nature of regulators may mean that best regulatory practice could be ignored, that barriers to entry could be maintained and that self-interest would drive regulation to the exclusion of the interests of the public and all those who need to use legal services.’
The statement is the latest in a long-running power struggle between the LSB, and the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar Standards Board. Both have previously called on the LSB to scale back its operations now the Legal Services Act has fully come into force.
But the Ministry of Justice appears keen to maintain the current regulatory arrangements, having backed the LSB in its triennial review last year.
Justice minister Helen Grant today said: ‘Proportionate and well-targeted regulation plays an important role in protecting consumers, underpinning the law and enabling firms to efficiently meet clients’ needs.
‘The LSB is championing these objectives and continuing to challenge approved regulators to raise standards as they modernise their approaches.’
In its annual financial statement, the LSB said it had spent £4.26m during 2012/13, which was £234,000 under budget. This was 7% less than was spent the previous year.
The organisation said the underspend for 2012/13 was due to the LSB holding some posts vacant for an extended period. As of March 2013, the LSB had 31 full-time staff members and one part-time employee.